The Community Development and Applied Economics (CDAE) department offers a hands-on documentary production course in which students produce films for local development and environmental organizations and causes. Nilima Abrams created this class after teaching a long-form documentary course where students watch, research and write about documentaries and how they are used for social and environmental movements. Abrams recognized that, "many students of course also want to MAKE these types of films!" Abrams does a lot of work with small non-profits and bigger companies. It was there that she noticed a matching gap: most small organizations don't have the skills, time or money to put together marketing videos for themselves.
In this class she marries student demand with the community need. Abrams exposes students to commercial marketing techniques and has the students apply them to "good" causes. Students learn production techniques and principles to plan, write, shoot, edit and share short videos that promote social change or educate audiences on a current environmental and development issues. Students come to the class from a huge range of majors (CDAE, ENVS, FTS and Art History are represented this semester) and experience levels. They all make three short films throughout the semester. "Even those who have never filmed anything are making quality projects and I'm very happy with the results," says Abrams.
Two of the films that focus on campus sustainability programs are featured below. The class is holding a public film screening in Harris 115 on December 12th from 5:30-7:30 where you can watch dozens of other student films!